Monash physics research team nominated as a finalist in the prestigious Eureka Prizes

The team  of physicists from Monash has been nominated as a finalist in the category  ‘UNSW Eureka Prize for Scientific Research’ as part of the Australian Quantum Vortex team.

In recognition of its ground-breaking research, a team of physicists at Monash University has been shortlisted as a finalist in this year’s Australian Museum Eureka Prizes – the nation’s top science awards.

The team joins six other scientists from Monash University who have been nominated as finalists and are each in the running for one of 17 awards across four categories.

The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes honour excellence across the areas of research and innovation, leadership, science engagement and school science, and are presented annually in partnership with some of the country’s leading scientific institutions, government organisations, universities and corporations.

The team at the time was from the Monash School of Physics and Astronomy and was a collaboration between an experiment led by Professor Kristian Helmerson and his PhD student, Shaun Johnstone, and theory led by Dr Tapio Simula (now at Swinburne University of Technology), and his PhD student Andrew Groszek.  The work was also carried out in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies (FLEET).

Dr Shaun Johnstone sadly passed away last year at the age of 32, soon after taking up a postdoctoral research position with Professor Helmerson in FLEET.

The team  of physicists from Monash has been nominated as a finalist in the category  ‘UNSW Eureka Prize for Scientific Research’ as part of the Australian Quantum Vortex team, which includes a collaboration with the University of Queensland (UQ), and Swinburne University of Technology.

Turbulence is a ubiquitous phenomenon that causes giant vortices to form, influencing global weather, flight and even galaxies.

The Australian Quantum Vortex Team has developed pioneering laser technologies to observe the microscopic origins of turbulence for the first time. Their results verify 70-year-old predictions that these vortices emerge in quantum fluids and have important implications for the design of future quantum technologies.

“We are honoured that the work of our physicists has been recognised in the finals of the Eureka Prizes,” said Professor Michael Morgan, the Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy at Monash University.

“The work on turbulence was a great collaborative effort driven by Professor Helmerson from our School,” he said.

“Professor Helmerson, together with Dr Shaun Johnstone, who was his PhD student at the time, have made outstanding contributions in this field along with their collaborators from Swinburne, and UQ.”

See also: Order from chaos: Monash vortex study first proof of decades-old theory

This Monash study published last year offered the first proof of a 70-year-old theory of turbulence. The study confirms a seminal theory of the formation of large-scale vortices from turbulence in 2D fluid flow, where the large vortices emerge from an apparent chaos of smaller vortices.

Other Monash University Eureka Prize finalists include: Dr Gemma Sharp, Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, Dr Paul Biegler, Monash Bioethics Centre, Professor Dinh Phung, Faculty of Information Technology, Monash Milkshake Team, led by Ben Boyd, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, BioNanoVR, Dr Angus Johnston, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, in collaboration with the University of Queensland and UNSW, and Professor Mark Febbraio, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The Eureka Prize winners will be announced on Tuesday 24 November at Sydney Town Hall. For more information on the Eureka Prizes, visit the Australian Museum website.

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